You’ve heard it before, but it really is true—breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Busy families can be short on time, but a healthy breakfast can be quick and easy to prepare. Choosing foods wisely, by planning ahead, can make the simplest meal a healthful one. For breakfast, foods from at least three of the five food groups should be included. Several studies have found that children who eat breakfast are better prepared to learn, have longer attention spans, perform complex tasks better, have better social skills, are more alert, miss fewer days of school, and are generally healthier than children who skip breakfast.

No Time for Breakfast?

• Make a breakfast menu for the entire week so you know what to have each day.

• Get ready the night before by setting out spoons, bowls and glasses for cereal and juice.

• Make sure you and the kids get up on time.

• Lay out clothes the night before so extra time isn’t needed for dressing.

• Set a timer for tasks in the morning so there is time to eat.

• Pack up books and homework the night before.

• Share breakfast duties among family members.

• Pack breakfast to eat in the car. Try a whole grain English muffin with nut butter or a bagel with melted cheese and a juice box (100 percent fruit) to wash it down.

• Don’t like breakfast foods? Breakfast can be any food (preferably healthy food) you like. Your body doesn’t care what time of day it is—it just needs food for energy. Try these quick and easy “unbreakfasts:”

• Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread

• Sliced turkey with lettuce and reduced-fat cheese rolled in a tortilla

• Yogurt parfait with yogurt, fresh or canned fruit, and low-fat granola

• Leftover taco meat over brown rice

• A bowl of vegetable soup

• A slice of veggie pizza with orange juice

• A plate of leftover spaghetti

Think breakfast will cause weight gain? There is no evidence to support the belief that eating breakfast will cause weight gain. In fact, people who regularly skip breakfast will eat more high-calorie snacks and eat more at other meals.

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with Clark County Cooperative Extension. Contact or 702-257-5548.